Just a small town girl in a big crazy city!

Growing up in a small town, had its benefits. For example we didn’t have McDonald’s until I was in kindergarten and had to drive to the Mile High City to get our fast food fix. It amazes me that my home town still doesn’t have a Taco Bell but if you love to eat sugar beets you can find them along the streets during the harvest.

Sugar Beets

I am sure you are probably wondering how this is even relevant to NOLA. One of the best NOLA experiences I had while visiting is I got to meet up with my best friend from Jr. High and High School.

Lynne and I

Lynne and I met in study hall in 7th grade. We met because we were wearing the same Nike shoes and get this when we met in NOLA 25+ years later we had on the same brand of flip flops.

Ritz

Lynne was staying at the Ritz Carlton so I walked down the street to meet her for breakfast. She said I sounded like I was from Canada and I said she talked like she was from the South. We both just laughed. It was so awesome to see her and talk for 2 hours straight. We talked about kids, health and just life. We laughed and reminisced about sneaking out of her parents’ house. There were times when we thought her mom and dad knew because they put chimes on the door knob. Lynne said her mom never did know. Oh my! (Kianna don’t get any ideas and mom I am not sure if I ever shared this with you)if it wouldn’t have been for social media I wouldn’t have had any idea she was in NOLA at the same time.

NOLA Lynne and I

After breakfast Lynne and her family had to get on the road to drive home to Houston. I decided to brave it down Bourbon Street for some souvenir shopping. Being a small town girl in a big city I was a bit apprehensive to wonder around by myself much. My dad lived in NOLA for a short time and he had me all freaked out about being in the French Quarter alone. After I found some fun gifts for family and co-workers I headed back to my hotel to collect my rain poncho and my Steamboat tour ticket.

I thought it would be a fun time to spend the afternoon in the sweltering humidity and travel down the Mississippi River on a steamboat tour.

Boat

“The New Orleans Steamboat Company locally owns and operates the last authentic Steamboat on the Mighty Mississippi River:

  • The Steamboat NATCHEZ Dinner Jazz and Daytime jazz cruises … run daily, year round, in the style of authentic steamboats in New Orleans for centuries! 
  • Steam Engine Room visitation, calliope, live jazz and optional Creole food and local beverages.

Come aboard and enjoy New Orleans hospitality….. Steamboat Style!”

The buffet was interesting to say the least. For those of you who know me I am a meat and veggies eater. I don’t really eat fried foods and not a lot of complex carbs. This buffet to say the least was a true testament of Southern Style eating. All I wanted for dinner that night was a HUGE salad.

Southern Fried Fish (Catfish I am not a fan of catfish)
Zesty cornmeal crusted and fried to a golden perfection

Red Beans and Rice  (I did have this pretty good)
New Orleans classic red beans with andouille sausage and served over Jazzmen® rice

Frittata del Giorno (This was scary looking didn’t even try it)
A classic Italian omelet slow cooked and brimming with fresh garden vegetables, specialty
cheeses and Chef’s selection of herbs and spices

Vegetarian Pasta Salad (Had enough carbs from the beans and rice)

Fontanini® Link Breakfast Sausage (Weird breakfast sausage for lunch)

Vegetable of the Day Cole Slaw (I wanted salad this was the closest thing)
House prepared creamy cole slaw

Cornucopia of Fresh Fruit (Never saw the fruit)

Corn Bread (Had to try it, needed a bowl of chili)

NATCHEZ Bread Pudding (I think the southern waitress wanted to fatten me up as she insisted I have a piece of the BEST bread pudding, if I am going to eat dessert I usually want a Pecan Mudslide from DQ)
A New Orleans soufflé of La Louisiane French bread, eggs, cream, vanilla and cinnamon
with a Callebaut® Belgian white chocolate sauce

La Louisiane Fresh Sliced French Bread (I had the corn bread)

French Market Coffee and Iced Tea included

“The Harbor Jazz Cruise entertainment includes a jazz pianist or jazz trio (Duke Heitger and the Steamboat Stompers) along with a professional live narration of the river sites and history.”

Nola MissiRefineryTrans port

This was a fun afternoon. I enjoyed the history lesson and spending the day on the water. After my tour I walked around the French Quarter looking in all the little shops. I found a nice crisp grilled chicken salad at the hotel and relaxed in the AC for the remainder of the evening.

 Humidity

So long

Hello Rocky Mountains!

Hello Rocky Mountains!

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No Big Hair in the Big Easy!

NOLA 7I fully expected to endure humidity in NOLA however, I didn’t expect my root lifter and mega freeze hair spray not to work. Yep I looked like a wet dog the entire time.
Enough of that rambling here is a little recap of my experience and thoughts about traveling to New Orleans for the very first time.

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My taxi ride from the airport to the hotel was very quiet. The driver said not one word to me, really an introverted taxi driver. Upon arriving at the Sheraton on Canal street I quickly changed into my workout clothes and got a 30 min cardio session. Yep this was the one and only workout I had while in NOLA attending the AHP conference. After my workout I showered and headed to the conference reception. During the reception it was raining cats and dogs in the city adding to my suffocation from humidity.
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Our consultant was kind enough to invite me to dinner.

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The Orleans Grapevine Bar and Bistro was the choice for dinner. They picked this particular restaurant so we could enjoy the outdoor courtyard. Unfortunately it was raining off and on so we sat in doors.

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The waitress was very knowledgeable and super friendly. The menu had many options which made for a hard decision. I finally decided on the soup of the day – Chicken, artichoke and sun-dried tomato and crab cakes. Both were fabulous!

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I opted to have a nice snifter of Grand Mariner for dessert and others at the table shared a beautiful brownie, ice cream and strawberry dessert.

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The chef came out and jumped on the piano with a little great balls of fire. What a fun, fabulous place. It’s a definite NOLA keeper!

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This is a picture of wet Bourbon street and a plate of Oyster poor boys from the conference lunch. I did not try them. Yep I am not into eating oysters let alone fried ones.

After a long day of classes AHP arranged for everyone to meet up at the famous Carousal Piano bar and lounge. The famous Carousel Bar & Lounge in the Hotel Monteleone is a long-time favorite New Orleans hotspot.  The classic New Orleans hotel bar is the city’s only revolving bar.  For decades, it has lured guests in to take a spin on the 25-seat, bright circus-clad Merry-Go-Round.  The Carousel Bar overlooks famed Royal Street in the heart of the French Quarter.  Guests can enjoy the view through large fan windows.  This New Orleans hotel bar has long been a favorite of both locals and tourists.

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I landed on a French 007. Vodka, pomegranate and champagne.

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My new found friends and I had one drink and decided to slop thru the rain and find some dinner.

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We walked across the street to Mr. Bs.

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“Mr. B’s Bistro, a New Orleans restaurant famous for its Creole cuisine with a focus on fresh regional products, is located in the heart of the French Quarter at the intersection of Royal Street and Iberville. This corner is a New Orleans landmark and celebrated food corner. Considered the original New Orleans gourmet bistro, Mr. B’s Bistro is owned and managed by Cindy Brennan, a member of the legendary New Orleans’ Brennan Family.”

 One of my colleagues recommended the restaurant and the BBQ shrimp which I ordered. In my mind I visioned shrimp grilled on the barbecue grill and topped with BBQ sauce. This is not the same thing in NOLA.  

Here is the menu description
MR. B’S BARBEQUED SHRIMP – A Mr. B’s signature dish! Gulf shrimp barbeque New Orleans style, served in their shells with peppery butter sauce and French bread for dipping $27
The menu states served in their shells and what they REALLY  mean is shrimp from head to tail!

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After dinner I had to try a piece if Pecan pie. I didn’t care for the crust but the filling was grand!

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Mr. B’s was ok. My thoughts for the price it was mediocre.

The next experience in NOLA would be dinner with some PA girls and a walking Ghosts & Spirits tour. When Amanda told me about the tour I thought drinks and ghosts this would be fun. On my way to the lobby of the hotel I read the brochure.

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“A Nighttime Walking Tour of the French Quarter

New Orleans has been referred to as “The most haunted city in America.” After this tour, we’ll let you be the judge!

With its colorful history and unique traditions, it is no wonder so many New Orleans homes and taverns have been investigated by paranormal investigators.

You’ll visit several haunted sites and hear about the stories featured on The History Channel and The Discovery Channel.

Hear ghostly stories about our haunted hotels and the courthouse where our state supreme court is based. We even visit a former slave exchange. Each guide has researched these “other spirits” of the Vieux Carre, so no two tours are exactly alike.
Will you see any of the ghosts that inhabit the famous Bourbon Orleans Hotel, formerly a theater, Quadroon Ballroom, orphanage and convent? Staff and guests report regular ghost sightings- maybe you will too.
Take an exciting look at the relics of voodoo ceremonies, a vampire slaying kit, and age old tools of the trade used by mystical and mysterious inhabitants of our city.
Bring your camera. You never know who will want to pose for a picture!”

Ok now I am a little spooked by the “Ghost tour”. I meet up with the girls in the lobby and we start walking to the Jackson Brewery where the tour begins.

On our walk we saw a fun wedding parading down the street singing. NOLA would be a fun place to have a wedding. It kind of reminded me of a gypsy wedding.

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We found the Jackson Brewery Bistro to eat dinner prior to our tour.

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“Jackson Brewery Bistro Bar is in the oldest and most famous neighborhood in New Orleans, known as the Vieux Carre or French Quarter. Bordered by the majestic Mississippi River and historic Decatur Street, the interior reflects the beautiful New Orleans architecture complete with ironwork balconies (mezzanines) and Victorian Industrial style furnishings.

Once one of the largest breweries in the country, the brewery is no longer active, but Jackson Brewery Bistro Bar offers a great assortment of local craft beers. Our beer sampler is a favorite!

Live entertainment and in house music reflects the beloved New Orleans and Louisiana culture during the restaurant hours and helps preserve our traditions.”

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We were early enough to get Happy Hour drinks I decided to try a mojito in NOLA. The only other mojito I’ve ever had,  was at a sushi restaurant and it was a totally different kind so I didn’t have anything to compare it to. It was very refreshing!

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and some water too!

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Now what to order for my meal????

Since I am in NOLA I had to try the Jambalaya…I have to say it was DELICIOUS! When I was in college I worked at a restaurant that offered Jambalaya and it did not taste near as good as this.

So if you find yourself at Jax’s brewery try the Jambalaya!

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The girls and I head to find tour start and needed to purchase a beautiful rain poncho before we start walking and listening to Ghosts stories.

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The first stop of the tour is at O’Claritys Irish Pub. Whoops my bad that is what I thought the tour guide said the name of the place was but it’s really O’Flaherty’s Irish pub! We stopped for a mojito and a fun ghost story.

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Next stop was the Omni Hotel for a very intense story. I guess this hotel was once a military hospital and ghosts have been known to resurface in the hotel. The next intense story was about a couple that moved to NOLA and decided to stay during Katrina. Check out the Addie Hall and Zach Bowen story. Evidently he jumped from the roof of the Omni on to a parking garage to kill himself and his spirit tends to show up now and again.

We then headed to Little Vic’s. What I loved most about this venue is the wonderful court yard, the fun statue and hilarious bathroom sign.

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Then our tour guide took us down a dark freaky ally to find the St. Anthony Garden the statue is also known as the “Touch Down Jesus”

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And the last ghost story takes place at the Orleans Ball Room! We did not get to see the ballroom as the ghosts were setting up for a wedding the next day.

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This tour had some fun history, thank goodness it wasn’t freaky scary like I thought it was going to be.

 I promise to be back before the end of the week with more from NOLA!

Mile High Adventures!

 Mile High adventure!

 Mile High drive

Once we traveled over the continental divide and arrived in SW Denver we headed to “The Platte River Bar & Grill” for lunch and a GIANT marg. (Yes one is all you need)

Amazing Food, Great People, Good Times

“The Platte” has been a serving the Denver area for over twenty years. Located along the Platte River in Littleton Colorado, we have been a favorite stop for bikers and cyclists looking to refuel. We offer plenty of outside seating ( and heated inside seating during the winter months) making us a perfect place for those who enjoy the sunshine as much as good company. We are a family owned and operated so it’s not that same old corporate stuffy feeling. No matter what the occasion, we can accommodate any size party or occasion with over 300 outdoor seats as well as 170 indoor seats to suit your need (a great place for a birthday or business get together)! With a wide variety of food specialties and drink concoctions, you will always find something unique and different @ the Platte River Bar and Grill!

“The Platte” is a Denver staple for our family. The menu offers a variety of items and all taste like home-made! Check out their website – www.theplatte.com

Mile High Marg

Wine to go? Yep in Colorado if you don't finish the bottle get a to bag!

Wine to go? Yep in Colorado if you don’t finish the bottle get a to-go bag!

Our family was going to take us to breakfast at South Glenn to a place named Snooze but they had an hour and half wait. We decided to find a different restaurant. We ended up dining at a place called Ivy at the Glenn. They had an amazing brunch. Bottomless Bloody Mary’s and Bottomless Mimosa’s. I have zero photos from this great place because my phone was dead. I enjoyed the Creme Brulee Oatmeal…

“Ivy at the Glenn—Streets of SouthGlenn—At The Fountain

Seasonal. Contemporary. Neighborhood. Food. Here at the Ivy, we strive to offer the freshest possible ingredients for our cuisine according to what each season has to offer.  This provides you with a dynamic menu that evolves along with the balance of nature. Ivy at the Glenn is conveniently located in the beautiful Streets at Southglenn, just south of Whole Foods, at the fountain square at Gaylord and Commons Streets. We are open Monday – Friday from 11 am – Close (when our last customer departs) and Saturday & Sunday from 9:00 am – Close. Join us for our weekend brunch, served Saturday & Sunday from 9:00 am to 2 pm.  “
 
 
 
Our last day with family was a day of Bronco football! The Chef made a fabulous fest for us!
 
Mile High time to ride
 
Game Day Menu included:
New England Style Clam Chowder, Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, Seared Ahi Tuna Salad, Mussels Marinara w/ Ciabatta Crostini, Alaskan King Crab, Roasted Brussel Sprouts, and Bloody Mary’s!
Mile High bloody
 
Mile High Chowder
 

Here are a few Colorado Travel tips for those of you interested in visiting Colorado!

Mile High on the road home

1.  Stay hydrated so you don’t get altitude sickness

 2.  Speaking of altitude one drink and you will have a buzz so yes you will be a cheap drunk.

 3.  Don’t buy beer in a grocery store or convenience store it’s 3.2 vs 6.0 so be sure to buy it in a liquor store.

 4.  Liquor stores close at midnight.

 5. Bars stop serving at 2:00 am

 6.  If you drive out of the city on I-70 and the weather isn’t bad and you can’t go the speed limit or 5-10 faster stay in the right hand lane.  

 7.  At 53 square miles, Denver International Airport is twice the size of Manhattan.

 8. The 16th street mall has shuttles. But you can pretty much walk almost everywhere downtown.

 9.  You can buy weed in Colorado but I saw only one pot shop between South Denver and North Denver. Don’t believe everything you hear on the news Colorado is NOT up in smoke!

10. Enjoy the Mile High City!

GO BRONCOS!

Things you find on LONG road trip!

map 1Our road trip started in Grand Junction,CO to  Elko, NV.

windmills

This is the first time I had ever seen electric producing wind turbines!

This particular windmills are located between Price UT and Salt Lake City.

truck

On the way to the ATV shop this truck passed us.

 

Morton

Did you ever wonder where your Morton’s salt comes from?

Yep the Great Salt Lake

golden nugget

Made it to Nevada! The Golden Nugget is just across the state line of Utah! 

I guess we missed the sign that it’s against the law to talk on your cell phone in NV. (Share the word)

ticket

Outside G

First stop the “G”

"G"

This is posted in the bar! Hahah

If you are ever in Elko stop and have a cocktail! 

wine albertsons

Wine in a grocery store is something we don’t have in Colorado!

How convenient is that?

sunset

Beautiful sunset in the Humbolt National Forest

map

We started in Elko up the mountain to camp

and ride to Jarbidge where the A is on the map.

Rugged trail

Some rugged terrain in a side by side looking for Jarbidge, NV.

bar

We made it! 

Huge Canyon

Gods Pocket Peak

bed

In the middle of the Mountains a bed?

Crown

Really Whiskey too?

wild flowers

Wildflowers everywhere! 

fire

Camping has to include a fire! 

rainbow

Wow love God’s country! 

tired dogs

Tired dogs! 

water slide

New friends!

Broken

Broken toys! 

man made tree

Manmade Trees! 

seagull

Seagulls 

not a runner

Vacation is over let the training begin! 

San Francisco Half Marathon!